|Let's get one thing straight right off the bat. RAT RACE (2001), is light years away from being a great movie. I know that. You know that. But damn it, it is one funny movie. At least, in my opinion.|
Back before we were married, Judy and I used to have a weekly movie rental night. I'd pick up a DVD at Blockbuster (remember them?) on my way to her house where she'd have hot buttered popcorn and a cold Dr. Pepper waiting for me. I usually rented comedies since Judy does not tolerate anything too intense or violent. That's fine. I'll save the harder stuff for solo viewings.
One night I picked up a copy of RAT RACE, read the information on the box and thought, "what the hell, this sounds like it might be fun, I'll give it a try." The film has a good pedigree. It's produced and directed by Jerry Zucker, whose comedy credentials include serving as either writer, producer or director on KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE (1977), AIRPLANE! (1980), TOP SECRET! (1984), RUTHLESS PEOPLE (1986), NAKED GUN (1998), NAKED GUN 2 1/2 (1991) and NAKED GUN 33 1/3 THE SMELL OF FEAR (1994). I've seen almost every one of those films and hold AIRPLANE! and NAKED GUN in my personal comedy film hall of fame.
The cast is also solid. John Cleese, Rowan Atkinson, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Whoopi Goldberg, Seth Green, Jon Lovitz, Kathy Najimy, Dave Thomas and Wayne Knight are all fine comic performers. The screenplay by Andy Breckman isn't the most original story you'll ever see however. The film is basically a riff on the classic formula first seen in Stanley Kramer's epic masterpiece IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD (1963) (one of my all time favorite films, by the way). In RAT RACE, eccentric billionaire and Las Vegas casino/hotel owner John Cleese and his rich gambling buddies place bets on which one of a desperate group of people will reach Silver City, New Mexico first and claim the two million dollars in cash that is secured in a train station locker.
The chase is on as the main stars race from Las Vegas to Silver City by any means possible. There are some impressive physical stunts and inspired sight gags along the way, along with several memorable and quotable scenes. Among the highlights: the Klaus Barbie Museum, "Dad, I'm prairie doggin'!", YOU...SHOULD...HAVE...BOUGHT....A....SQUIRREL, "Look, there's a drifter, let's keel him!" and a bus load of "crazy Lucy bitches".
Judy and I liked RAT RACE so much the first time we saw it that I went out and bought a copy of it the next day. We've watched it twice since then, the most recent being just a week or so ago when we screened the film for our house guest Holly. She loved it.
It's no classic, but RAT RACE still makes me laugh like a jackass whenever I watch it. Recommended.